HC Deb 30 January 1945 vol 407 cc1338-40

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £940, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1945, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of Agriculture for Scotland, including grants for land improvement, agricultural education and research, agricultural marketing, agricultural credits, expenses in respect of regulation of agricultural wages, certain grants in aid, and remanet subsidy payments.

1.35 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Allan Chapman)

May I briefly explain to the Committee one or two points about this Supplementary Estimate? Under sub-head F £645 is asked for in consequence of loss incurred on land settlement in relation to the Department's small holdings and arises from the fact that, after five years of postponed maintenance, expenditure on upkeep has been higher than anticipated. Income, on the other hand, as represented by proceeds from rents and building loan annuities, etc., is about what was expected. With regard to Sub-head I, "Land Drainage," the major portion of this additional sum of £10,000, is asked for to meet more claims than anticipated in respect of the improvement of agricultural drainage work under Section 16 of the Agricultural Act, 1937, carried out in the interests of food production. The balance of £2,100 is for work on arterial drainage schemes on the Rivers Kelvin and Annan not provided for in the original estimate.

With regard to J.1 "Agricultural Education (grants)," the sum of £3,000 arises from a proposal to adapt a building at the North of Scotland College farm to accommodate young dairy cattlemen undergoing short term courses of instruction there. The expenditure by way of capital grant is recoverable from the Development Fund. Sub-head J.3 which deals with "Agricultural Education (general)" is required for two purposes. In the first place it is for the purpose of instituting an inquiry into the marginality of land in Scotland. We have a good deal of marginal land farming there and we need more comprehensive information particularly with regard to future policy. Secondly, the money is required to increase the data which we have been collecting on the economic conditions of farms generally. Since 1928 we have been keeping records of farms. At present the economics of 430 are analysed annually and we desire to raise the number to 750. Sub-head J.4, "Agricultural Research" is required for four purposes—first, in aid of the cost of a byre to be used in connection with Mastitis research; secondly, to meet the cost of providing advisory officer service in connection with the proposed investigation into the Aphid (green fly) scourge which we have had particularly in the Lothians where there are large areas of market gardens; thirdly, to establish a centre for sociological and economic investigation, advisory and experimental work in the Western Highlands under the direction of Dr. Fraser Darling; and fourthly, to provide £500 to meet preliminary expenditure in connection with the establishment of an artificial insemination centre for livestock.

Sub-head L.3 provides for a grant of £200 to the Agricultural Security Corporation payable under Sections 2 (2) and 8 of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1944, to enable the corporation to issue loans at a rate of 3½ per cent. as against the charge hitherto of 4¼ per cent. That explanation covers the main points. The vote before the Committee offsets certain appropriations-in-aid, and the actual increase asked for is £940.

Question put, and agreed to.